Recently renewed for a second season following strong ratings in the US, Universal Television’s prequel to Hitchcock’s 1960s film Psycho is the latest hotly anticipated series here in the UK.
We can’t seem to get enough of both serial killer dramas and horror stories, with The Following and Hannibal leading the way for the recent genre surge. Whilst The Following has had largely mixed reviews, Bates Motel is a contemporary re-imagining, much like Hannibal, and is built upon a story with solid suspense and thriller foundations – giving it an advantage from the start. By taking a story we’re already familiar with and giving it a modern twist allows us to learn more about the characters we thought we knew everything about. Psycho left quite a legacy in its wake and, make no mistake, Bates Motel isn’t trying to replace it because that would be doomed from the start. It’s giving us another angle in which to view Norman and Norma Bates; a fresh and potentially unique angle that deserves a chance.
Depicting the bizarre life of the murderous Norman Bates and his mother before the events that took place in Psycho, fans of Hitchcock may be surprised by the change in fictional location and an updated, 21st century setting. Despite being set in the present day, Bates Motel has already been praised for its distinct dark, retro feel and this could be the key to the show’s success – both now and in the long run.
The cast have further added to the anticipation and include a number of well known faces. As teenage Norman Bates we have all-grown-up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory actor, Freddie Highmore, who has the ability to look both innocent, strange and menacing at exactly the same time; perfect qualities for such a character. This role will certainly give Highmore a chance to flex his acting muscles and I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s made of. Vera Farmiga, who we’re more used to seeing in movies such as Source Code and Up In The Air, is brilliantly cast as mother Norma and will no doubt be the series’ shining light.
The trailer for Bates Motel has an eerie air, not dissimiliar to American Horror Story (music and all), and if it’s anything like Ryan Murphy’s venture into the horror genre we’re in for a thrilling, mystery-fuelled treat that shocks, scares and amazes. Here’s hoping we won’t be disappointed.